Can we change title/vesting before receiving the deed?

We purchased a property at TS, and submitted the form to the trustee company. After further consideration, we wanted to change the title/vesting to someone different from the one we filled out on the form. Can this be accomplished?

You can contact the trustee to see if the form can be amended. If not you can easily file a Correction Deed. This would just be a grant deed with the correct vesting and title. When you fill out the PCOR that must accompany the deed when you record it you would indicate that this is a correction deed.

Thanks Michelle! Can you explain what is a PCOR?

Hi Oliver, Sorry about that. PCOR stands for Preliminary Change of Ownership. When you record a Grant Deed the County will ask that you fill out a PCOR which tells them the reason the grant deed is being recorded as well as contact information and property condition.

Note that a PCOR is not required with a trustees deed, but I often would include one in order to let the assessor know that the property would be fixed up before they came out to do a review assessment. The reason for this is that we’d buy ugly houses at trustee sale, fix them up, then the assessor would show up and kick the assessed value up based on how it looked after repairs and we’d pay more property tax for the period we held it. By filling out a PCOR with a big note stating the condition at the time of purchase it made it more likely the assessed value would equal our purchase value, and thus lowing our taxes during the holding period.

Other than the check box indicating property condition (presumably “Poor” would most help to justify a lower tax rate) and the purchase price, is there anything else on the form that might influence the property tax reassessment? Sean, when you mentioned a “filling out a PCOR with a big note stating the condition at the time of purchase”, do you mean that you write descriptive comments about the property condition on the PCOR, and if so, where? Is the property condition at the time of auction purchase only relevant for taxes in the current calendar year to the extent you can argue the condition was similar on 1/1 of the prior calendar year and/or 1/1 of the current calendar year (depending upon the applicable time period you are concerned about during the current calendar year)? Would there still be any potential benefit to filing a PCOR if a property does not need to be improved after the auction purchase? Other than potentially lowering property taxes, is there any other possible benefit or harm to an auction buyer of filing a PCOR? Other than any additional filing fee, is there any harm in filing a PCOR some time after the TDUS is filed rather than at the same time?

Yes, I make a note to the affect that the price paid represented fair market value at the time of purchase. Can’t recall where on the form, and don’thave one in front of me. As for year, property taxes are pro-rated based on date of purchase and you receive a supplemental tax bill. I see no benefit to filing a PCOR later, if you even can. I’m actually not sure there is any benefit at all to filing a PCOR right now. Back when I was doing it I was having a real problem because the assessor was so far behind they wouldn’t set my assessment until after I had resold the house. Thus if I paid $220k and resold it for $300k I’d get assessed at the higher amount and it was really starting to add up. Including a PCOR resulted in a noticeable improvement - your mileage may vary.

Although not required by the assessor, the PCOR provides a slight advantage in an appeal of the assessment. This really only matters if you are keeping the property, and we have kept several. The county were I live is very hungry and they are pushing the values bought at auction with their justification that foreclosures are not the market. The code states that the sale price is presumed to be the market price… the burden of proof shifts to the party wishing to rebutt the presumption of market value, the caveat is that the buyer only gets this slight advantage if a PCOR is filed. So, I now always file a PCOR. And if I keep the property, I usually end up filing an appeal.

Awesome insight, thanks Richard!

For those who want the guidance on this, it is contained in the “Assessment Appeals Manual” published by the CA BOE. The benefit is that you can require the assessor to give you the basis for their valuation. Where I am, they always want me to give them proof, photos, etc, and I still do that. But when I read this to the assessor, they understand they have to do the work. This is the langage below from Rule 313 C(3).

(3) A change in ownership and the assessor has not enrolled the purchase price, and the applicant has
provided the change of ownership statement required by law. The assessor bears the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that the purchase price, whether paid in money or otherwise, is not the full cash value of the property.

Here is an easier reference in the BOE publication “Residential Property Assessmetn Appeals” published by the BOE.

Burden of Proof
The assessor bears the burden of proof in the following situations:
Appeals of owner-occupied single-family dwellings
Appeals of your property?s assessed value when the assessor enrolled a value
different from your purchase price (if you filed a change in ownership
statement timely), and
Escape assessments (if you filed a change in ownership statement or a building permit) In all other situations, the applicant has the burden of proving that the property has not been correctly assessed